Fissures in the Opposition Over Voting on FDI
Fissures in the Opposition over FDI in retail came to Government's aid today as the opening day of Parliament's Winter Session was washed out and Trinamool Congress' move for a no-confidence motion flopped.
At the end of the day, the Government convened an all-party meeting on Monday to break the deadlock as BJP and the Left parties insisted on a discussion in Parliament on FDI issue under voting provisions.
BJP and the Left also snubbed former Congress ally Trinamool Congress whose motion fell in the Lok Sabha for want of numbers. Trinamool has only 19 MPs and for a no-confidence motion to be admitted a minimum of 55 MPs have to raise in support of it in the House.
SP and BSP, whose members disrupted both the houses by rushing to the well protesting against the cap on subsidised LPG cylinders and SC/ST reservation issues, refused to play ball with the rest of the Opposition.
The SP, which opposes FDI in retail, however, said it will not "piggyback" on the BJP over its demand for discussion on the issue under a rule that entails voting. Its arch-rival in Uttar Pradesh BSP played its cards close to the chest.
BSP chief Mayawati said the Centre should first decide under which rule it wanted discussion in Parliament on FDI.
"First government has to decide, then we will make our stand clear on the floor of the House," she said.
Earlier in the day before the start of the session, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sought the cooperation of the Opposition in smooth running of Parliament, which has a heavy legislative agenda before it.
Singh reminded the Opposition of the obligation to work together to enable parliamentary democracy to grapple with the formidable challenges before the country.
On a day when the Lok Sabha was adjourned twice before being adjourned for the day at 2 pm, the BJP pressed for a discussion on the FDI in retail issue under Rule 184 which entails voting.
Left has already given notice for discussion under the same rule. Samajwadi Party has also given notice for adjournment motion on FDI, which Speaker Meira Kumar said was under her consideration.
Pressing for a discussion on FDI in retail under a rule that entails voting, Leader of the Opposition Sushma Swaraj said the government has shown contempt for the assurances given by then Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee who is now the President.
Swaraj said a vote on the issue would show that people of the country were against the move which would affect small traders.
She accused the government of committing "gross insult" of Parliament by not fulfilling its assurance of taking the House into confidence on the issue.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath said the government was ready to discuss any issue on the floor of the House as long as it was within the rules of Parliamentary procedure.
"We cannot say we want it under this rule, on this day and at this time. We have to explain that this is not being reasonable," he told reporters about the Opposition attitude.
Speaking at a meeting where CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury was also present, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley said voting will have to be there on the FDI issue.
"Everybody will have to disclose their stand on the issue in Parliament. Without a vote this policy cannot be implemented," he said, taking a veiled dig at SP and BSP noting that there were "some loyal Opposition parties".
The motion, first in the current Lok Sabha, was moved by Trinamool Congress Parliamentary Party leader Sudip Bandopadhyay and was supported by BJD.
However, it lacked the requisite numbers as only TMC's 18 members and BJD's three members supported.
The motion said, "This House expresses want of confidence in the Council of Ministers over its decision to allow 51 per cent FDI in multi-brand retail as it is going to harm millions of small businesses."
The Speaker asked all those supporting the motion to stand up. Amidst chants of "shame shame" from Congress benches, TMC members stood up and there was a verbal clash too.
On seeing the lack of numbers, Kumar said, "The motion does not have the leave of the House".
While the BSP members repeatedly stormed the well demanding dismissal of the Akhilesh Yadav government in Uttar Pradesh, the Speaker disallowed a notice for an adjournment motion of the BSP on the issue of law and order situation in the state.
In the Rajya Sabha, Trinamool Congress and AIADMK raised the issue of FDI in retail when the House met at noon after the first adjournment. BSP members rushed to the well raising slogans and created uproar over the issue of reservation to SCs/STs in promotions.
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